Catherine De Medici’s Favorite Perfumes

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Delve into the fragrant world of Catherine De Medici, the Italian noblewoman who became the queen of France. Discover her favorite perfumes, which played a significant role in her life and the French court.


Catherine De Medici, an Italian noblewoman who became the queen of France, is a historical figure known for her influence on French culture, particularly in the realm of perfumery. Born in 1519 in Florence, Italy, she was part of the powerful Medici family. Catherine became queen consort of France in 1547, following her marriage to Henry II.

Catherine De Medici
“France-001575 – Catherine de’ Medici” by archer10 (Dennis) is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Catherine’s influence extended far beyond politics. She was a patron of the arts, and her court was a hub of Renaissance culture. But perhaps her most enduring legacy is her contribution to the world of perfume. Catherine is credited with introducing France to the art of perfumery, which would later become one of the country’s most renowned industries.

Catherine was known for her love of scents. She brought her personal perfumer, Renato Bianco, to France from Italy. Bianco, later known as Rene le Florentin, was not just a perfumer but also a poisoner, adding a layer of intrigue and danger to the world of Renaissance perfumery.

Catherine’s life was marked by political and personal turmoil. Her husband’s death, her struggles with her children’s reigns, and the religious wars between Catholics and Protestants all took their toll. But through it all, her love for perfume remained a constant. She used scents not just for personal enjoyment, but also for medicinal purposes and even as a tool of manipulation in the treacherous world of the French court.

Catherine De Medici’s life was as complex and multi-faceted as the perfumes she loved. Her influence on the world of perfume is still felt today, and her favorite scents provide a fascinating insight into her world.

Favorite Fragrances

Catherine De Medici had a particular fondness for strong, heady scents. One of her favorites was a perfume made from bergamot, a citrus fruit. This scent, with its fresh, vibrant notes, would have provided a lively contrast to the heavy, musky perfumes common in the 16th century.

Another favorite was a perfume made from neroli, derived from the blossom of the bitter orange tree. This scent has a sweet, honeyed aroma with slightly metallic undertones, a complex fragrance that would have appealed to Catherine’s sophisticated tastes.

Catherine also favored perfumes made from ambergris, a rare substance produced by whales. Perfumes made from ambergris have a unique, marine freshness, layered with rich, sweet, and earthy notes. This rare and precious ingredient would have been fitting for a queen.

Catherine’s personal perfumer, Rene le Florentin, created many of these perfumes specifically for her. His creations were not just perfumes, but also works of art, reflecting the complexity and richness of the world in which Catherine lived.

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